Posts Tagged George Orwell

Counter Culture : Words Of Wisdom : George Orwell



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A passionate production of this dystopian nightmare by Close Up theatre

theSpace @ Jury’s Inn (Venue 260)

Till August 27
45 minutes
This abridged version of the classic dystopian nightmare by George Orwell from Close Up theatre is gripping. It can’t have been easy to condense the themes into 45 minutes but somehow they did it. Just three central characters Winston Smith (Geraint Downing), Julia (Lara Deering} and O’Brien (Harriet Thomas) interact to show the reality of life under a ruthless and confident totalitarian State. A State in which your every gesture, act and expression is monitored for signs of ‘disloyalty’. Of course Orwell was influenced by his understanding of Stalinism but the attempt to deny any objective reality beyond power has never been confined to one ideological or political tendency. That’s why, though Stalinism has thankfully long bitten the dust, the warnings Orwell gives are still very telling.
This production is played with great passion and energy. I wouldn’t single out any three of the actors as they are all so good with the material they are working with (though, for me, O’Brien was given the best lines by Orwell!). The torture scene between O’Brien and Smith was harrowing and fascinating – all at once. As with the description of the hanged man in Plato we wanted to look away but we were drawn to it.
I believe that there is a connection between this company and the company that did Antigone (Eleventh Hour). I am very impressed by both productions. Both deal with dictatorship in different ways. If you can go and see the two . You will not be disappointed.
Five Stars
Reviewed by Pat Harrington
Technical Desk: Lucy Elmes
Technical Desk: Gabriella Stills
Producer: Rebecca Vines

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Review: 1985 – A Sequel to George Orwell’s 1984 by Gyorgy Dalos


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This book begins with the unthinkable – the death of ‘Big Brother’. The orthodoxy of the totalitarian system is threatened by this, the ensuing power struggles and the near destruction of the Oceania air force by Eurasia. Using the characters and framework of Orwell’s classic, 1984, Dalos moves the plot further.

Elements of the Thought Police recognise the need for Perestroika (Reconstruction) and Glasnost (Openness). Leading secret policeman O’Brien explains:-

“Earlier during the rule of Big Brother… we were content if people were afraid of us. Today we want them to support us. And that without pressure – of their own free will and intelligently”.

O’Brien sees the need to “create a kind of public sphere – naturally under our control.”  The book gives two reasons for this: 

– to put pressure on Party cliques through public opinion
– to convert the functionaries of the Outer Party to the new policies required by changing conditions.

It is interesting to compare this thought process with what Gorbachev (himself a former KGB leader) attempted to practice in the former Soviet Union. As this book was first published in 1982 we should credit the authour with prescience.

The decision to create a “public sphere” inevitably leads to a number of consequences which O’Brien had not anticipated.

For political activists this book is very amusing. Written through the accounts of the different main players the accounts are highly subjective and often contradictory. The language parodies each character. The most amusing example of this was to my mind, the compromising survivor Julia Miller. Her writings use language to qualify and excuse. It reflects the logic of what she thinks is a dialectical process; in writing of O’Brien, for instance:-

“But it is a fact that O’Brien, so long as he was not ruled for a pathological greed for power, played a certain positive part in the beginning of our Reform Movement.”

This “misuse” of language is familiar to those of us who still read Marxist publications….

1985 is different from 1984 in many ways. There is more humour in 1985 and, to begin with at least, less of an all enveloping sense of evil. In 1984 you begin to believe that, as the Daleks would say, “resistance is futile”. In 1985, even O’Brien seems uncertain, worried and hesitant….

Reviewed by Pat Harrington

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Venue 124, Zoo Monkey House


When stories become as familiar as George Orwell’s 1984 it is easy to overlook them because we think we know them.  Big Brother and Room 101 have become assimilated into popular culture through trivial television programmes.

Sometimes a retelling of a familiar story restores its original power to shock us out of our everyday complacency.  That’s true of Matthew Dunster’s simple, but nevertheless powerful adaptation of 1984, presented by EmpathEyes Theatre.

In the oppressive atmosphere of Oceania under the rule of the omnipresent Party Leader, wrong thoughts as well as wrong deeds are treated as crimes. Language has been redefined to design out the possibility of ‘thoughtcrime’. Big Brother sees everything.  Under his rule people have no trust and even fear their children, all of whom are members of the Spies.  People are dragged off in the night and are never spoken of again. One of Winston Smith’s colleagues, Symes, was arrested after one of his children denounced him for thoughtcrime.  He was overheard saying something against Big Brother in his sleep. Although they know that rebellion is futile, Winston and Julia have had enough and decide to resist Big Brother.

This hard-hitting stripped down to basics approach to the story brings home the true brutality of Big Brother’s regime; perpetual war, enforced cheerfulness, ‘doublethink’ and the image of Big Brother’s political power, a boot stamping on a human face forever.


EmpathEyes Theatre’s production of 1984

***** Five Stars


David Kerr





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